After soaking up three days of Panamanian city life, culture, food and vibe, it was a great experience to drive an hour out of the city (on a very rough road) to enter the Chagres National Park. This preserved area is crucial for Panamanian economy because it supplies 80 per cent of water needed for the Panama Canal to function.
Not to mention, it attracts hoards of tourists. Like us.
Mom, Dad and I piled into a motorized canoe with two other families and started gliding down the Chagres River. A small ride lead us to Lake Alajuela. Settled on a dam at this lake is the indigenous community of the Embera people.
Fellow travel junkies and The Amazing Race fans might recall this village tribe from season 19’s semi final. If you were too busy rooting for the snowboarders (like myself) and missed out on some information, here is a little bit of a background: The Embera people are originally from the Darien province neighbouring the northern border or Columbia. Due to guerrilla wars and drug trafficking, that area started becoming dangerous for the Embera families so they relocated to the Chagres River in 1975.
Not only did this new location give the Emberas a more secure home, but also gave them more accessibility to medical facilities located just an hour away in Panama City.